Garden Irrigation
Drip irrigation system

Irrigation needs are unique to your own individual garden. To know what type of garden irrigation system you want to use, this is a basic guide to help you decide. Each type of irrigation has pros and cons.

Types of Garden Irrigation Systems

  • Overhead irrigation
  • Drip irrigation
  • Soaker hose irrigation

#1 Overhead garden irrigation

Overhead watering uses a sprinkler system to deliver water to the space above or surrounding the foliage of the plants.

Overhead watering is a great option if you live in a desert climate with low humidity and/or if you are growing plants that aren’t susceptible to waterborne diseases (leafy greens, root crops). It is more advantageous in desert climates for seed starting as well because it keeps the whole soil surface wet allowing for better germination.

We would advise against using overhead watering in areas that are humid and already experiencing high rainfall amounts.

Benefits of overhead irrigation

  • Overhead watering is fantastic for starting seeds outdoors. It evenly waters the entire bed making it ideal for seed germination.
  • Since there are no hoses in the garden beds it makes it easy to weed using a hoe or tool.
  • Less time for setting up and takedown
  • One of the least expensive irrigation methods because one sprinkler serves many plants

Drawbacks of overhead irrigation

  • Can promote foliar diseases in plants
  • It waters everything including aisles promoting weed growing everywhere
  • Uses much more water
  • Potential for wind drift and evaporation before it gets to the root zone.
  • It promotes much more water runoff.

#2 Drip garden irrigation

Drip irrigation is a method of watering plants that uses controlled delivery of water directly to the plants. Usually, there are holes in specific spacing intervals in conjunction with the plants being irrigated. For example, when planting lettuce, you may have a hole for the water to drip from the hose every six inches.

Drip Irrigation is a great option for disease-prone plants like tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers because the water goes directly to the roots. Watering only the roots of the plants and nowhere else means two things. First, you’ll have fewer weeds because they aren’t receiving irrigation. Second, you save a lot of water because you’re only watering what you want to grow.

That being said, direct watering can also be detrimental. If you have trouble with the soil drying out easily or are growing root crops like carrots, it may not be the best choice.

The drip line irrigation system is very popular in Canada. Almost every fourth of our projects, as a rule, includes the installation of a drip system.

Benefits of Drip Irrigation 

  • Less water wasted
  • Won’t promote foliar diseases
  • Less weed pressure

Drawbacks of Drip Irrigation

  • Complicated setup (especially if you have no experience)
  • More expensive than other irrigation methods
  • Not good for soils with dry out easily or hot climates

#3 Soaker Hose Irrigation

A soaker hose allows water to seep in very slowly to the ground instead of running off. The majority of soaker hoses are made from recycled rubber or vinyl material.

The water drips slowly out of the entire line of hose making it a great option for direct root watering even if you don’t have perfect plant spacing. One consistent problem with soaker hoses is they need to be on level ground to water properly. 

Benefits of soaker hoses

  • Less water waste
  • Won’t promote foliar diseases
  • Easy to set up for beginners
  • Uses recycled materials

Drawbacks of soaker hoses

  • Needs to be on level ground
  • Getting the pressure right can be tricky if you have multiple areas your are watering
  • Only lasts a few years before getting holes or wearing out.


Choosing the best garden irrigation system is a personal choice based on many factors including geographic location, budget, and types of crops grown.

The best three options to choose from for a vegetable garden are overhead, drip, or soaker irrigation. It is imperative to the health and productivity of your plants to get the proper amount of water to the root system of the plants. Most times, rain alone is not enough for watering plants. Therefore, setting up an irrigation system is the best method to help to meet the needs of your plants and in turn, give you a lush and productive garden.